Oklahoma sophomore women’s gymnast Maggie Nichols was the first woman to alert USA Gymnastics about the sexual abuse she suffered from former Team USA physician Larry Nassar. For her bravery, she and the other Nassar sexual assault survivors will be honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2018 ESPY Awards.
The Ashe Award is given to individuals whose actions “transcend sports,” and is considered a humanitarian award. Notable recipients include Pat Tillman, the former athletes on United Airlines Flight 93, and Jim Valvano.
Nichols was the first woman to alert USA Gymnastics to Nassar’s abuse. She later chose to use her name on the record in early 2018. In the court filings, she was referred to as “Athlete A.”
Nassar pled guilty to seven counts of sexual assault of minors. He was sentenced to 40-175 years of prison in January 2018. Another 40 to 125 years were tacked on when Nassar pled guilty to another three counts in February 2018.
The scandal also implicated Michigan State University, the university where Nassar practiced. The school settled for $500 million with the Nassar survivors in May.
“I want everyone to know that he did not do this to Athlete A, he did it to Maggie Nichols,” wrote Nichols, in a letter to an Ingham County, Michigan judge.
Nichols won NCAA national championships in the all-around, floor, and bars in 2018. She is the only gymnast in the history of college gymnastics to post perfect 10.0s in every event in back-to-back years, known as a “Gym-Slam.”